Resurrect the Myth

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

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SteveC
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Post by SteveC » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The US spends $80 Billion on science but cannot deliver heathcare to everyone. If "myth" is designed to make people more spiritual and practical, then the myth of science has made us blind, not wise.

We create new drugs for profit, not to cure people. We encourage people to whine and fear everything. People make a career out of playing the victim, and the museums document our idiocy. There is a room to hold a vase, but no room for the homeless. We have made objects and facts more important than relationships and one another. Of course, this is not a Western problem, or even a modern problem, it has been like this for thousands of years. Science is ever "new" for every generation. Men fall in love with their own reflection and the work of their hands.

The golden calf has a thousand forms, but it is all idol worship.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.


The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
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Post by littlewing » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-09 06:00, SteveC wrote:
We have made objects and facts more important than relationships and one another.
And that is a crux of the dis-ease. The isolation caused by object-seeking; the attempt to replace real human needs with things is so widespread! The barrage of advertising no one can escape is to live this way. The encouragement to defend "the American way of life" is, I've perceived, more understood to be defending a standard of living than a way of government or our families' safety. That so many other countries look at us as the lucky ones precisely because of our standard of living encourages us to see it this way too.

But we are a social people. We can grow, as couples, families, groups, past the temptation to fix loneliness with things; grow in heart instead of in possessions. It really is a birthright as homo sapiens sapiens. Don't all our sacred stories and rituals affirm this?

The most pivotal spiritual times in my life have been when a rug of belief has been pulled out from under me... leaving me to re-evaluate my spiritual security. Luckily, for me, these have been opening heart times. I see this challenge to society in my country as so similar: A void exists where cultural and emphatic religious belief used to reign.

Into that void I would like to see a pro-humanity myth that honors the spirit of all the powerful myths of before and present. A culture that requires no specific myth of anyone; but recognizes that everyone, including children fascinated by superhero comics, has myth. We live in a time that could learn to celebrate and teach the spiritual guidance so necessary to the moral/interdependent glue of us all. It could use the myths of all the ages of humankind to do that. That's drawing on one powerful pool of understanding of the human condition!

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Post by Dionysus » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

If "myth" is designed to make people more spiritual and practical, then the myth of science has made us blind, not wise.
Steve, I wouldn't catagorize science as myth. It's statments like this that lead me to believe that you don't understand the term myth as it is being used in this conversation.

Campbell in "The Hero With a Thousand Faces says, "It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back."

He also states, and this is important, that "myth is metaphor." Science is not metaphor.
We create new drugs for profit, not to cure people. We encourage people to whine and fear everything.
No 'we' don't. 'We' are attempting to help people redefine their life purposes by encouraging people to alter their perspective and realize that they are everything that they perceive and helping them to discover a sacred space in their lives.

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Post by nandu » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-09 06:00, SteveC wrote:

The golden calf has a thousand forms, but it is all idol worship.
Now here is a statement which beautifully illustrates my point.

Christians (traditional ones for whom the Bible is a law-book of "shalt"s and "shalt not"s) don't understand what idol worship is. To them, the idol is just an object: a piece of stone somebody has carved into the likeness of a deity. Since they don't know (or are not interested) in the concept of transcending, they cannot go past it: something like the statement that "the rose is a rose is a rose..."

For people who understand myth as metaphor, it is somewhat different. Not any stone is an idol: the elaborate ritual of the Ashtabandha Kalasam has to be performed before the God is "bonded"(!) to it.
BONDING THE GODS TO EARTH...ASHTHABANDHAM

Bonding the image to the pedestal in the temple itself is a traditional ritual, the knowledge of which remains in the hands of a few individuals.

The ‘ashtabandha kalasam’ is performed in every temple during the installation of the deity and when the bonding wears off, the ritual is repeated....

Preparing the mixture which serves as an adhesive is a 41-day long procedure and the eight ingredients that go into it are finely powdered conch, gall-nut, sealing wax, gooseberry, resin of ‘pinus dammar’(chanchailiam in Malayalam) two varieties of gravel from the Bharatapuzha and the confluence of three rivers and cotton. It is only in the final stage of the preparation in the temple that cotton is added to the mixture.

All these ingredients have their own latent sticky consistency and the process of hammering them into the appropriate texture is done with the help of five wooden hammers, each hammer head weighing ten kilos. The mixture is sieved through a fine muslin. Five pairs of hands beat the initially dry ingredients into a lump resembling a smooth chunk of asofoetida.

As the process progresses, the mixture acquires a waxen consistency. The use of the tamarind wood for the hammer gives the necessary heat during the hammering process which aids the formation of this colloidal mixture. This is later made into smooth pebble-like balls which harden as they cool.

The second and the more important phase of ashtabandham takes place at the temple where these balls are put through some more hammering to restore the dough-like texture. Once this consistency is attained, the mixture is ready to perform its role of the mortar binding the idol to the pedestal. This is what is termed as the ashtabandha kalasam which is an elaborate three-day long ritual at the end of which the idol is firmly fixed.

Those who are interested can read the full article here.

http://kerala4u.in/173/bonding_the_gods ... thabandham

It is the ritual which brings God into the stone. The idol is not God: nor is it a dead representation. It is God and not-God at the same time. The devotee, his eyes shut in prayer in front of the idol, transcends the image. This is myth in action, even if the participant is unaware of it.

However, I find the same dynamic working among Christians and Muslims also: Christians worship a number of sacred objects, and Christ and the Bible has become the inspiration to beautiful pieces of art and literature. And even Muslims worship the Ka'aba, a piece of stone in Mecca.

However much Christianity and Islam try to kill myth, it seems that people keep it alive.

THANK GOD!

Nandu.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
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Post by SteveC » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-09 01:42, littlewing wrote:
Nice discussion! This quote on page one by NoMan caught my fancy:

"But I understand what you mean by Myth being dead in the West. It is dead for secularists. But for those of us who know better a new mythology is emerging; a mythology that has as its deities: equality, beauty, charity, progress, scientific truth, and environmental harmony. I don’t see this new mythology as dead or dormant at all but showing itself in museums, movies, and in the $80 billion the U.S. spends on science each year."
I was referring to the above quote in my response.

The fact is that science and religion are equally "myths," though doublethink leads people to believe they are in conflict with one another.

The old Popes had a myth that the Sun went around the Earth, and that society revolved around them. Thus, like the ancient Pharoah and Chinese emperors, the universe revolved around themselves. So science threatened their pride, just as "true" religion threatens the pride of scientists and atheists because it does not put man at the highest spot in the universe.

Men of all types reject their place within a hierarchal view. Democracy wanted to put man above his leader, for example, but every nation thinks themselves superior to their neighbor, and democracy is still a hierarchy. What really frightens man is the concept of equality with one another under God. He doesn't like either side of the equation.

For example, hating the King does not make him equal, it makes him beneath. And once the King was vanquished there was always somebody new to hate (indians, blacks, communists, terrorists, etc.) Never was everyone seen as equal. And then new intellectual kings are created, the superheroes: Lincoln, JFK, MLK, FDR, etc. Even Joe Campbell to an extent. People then become politically divided (again) over who to love and hate: Reagan vs Carter, Bush vs Gore, etc. We have a four year hate-love fest, and then change the posters and begin again.

But Moses and Jesus and Abraham keep popping back up. No matterwhat people "discover" they seem to have said it all before already, as have others who have repeated their wisdom. Wisdom is never going to be found in science. The corruption in religion is because of the lack of religion and a misplaced faith in science. The claim that "life begins at conception" is as absurd as saying the Sun revolves around the Earth. Both are scientific claims, not spiritual insight.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.


The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
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Post by nandu » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Still on the subject of binding the deity to the idol...

The article I quoted above describes, in detail, the fixing of the idol to the pedestal in a temple. Please note that the ceremony fulfills an extremely practical function: but it has been given the clothing of ritual, and the performance becomes a profound religious experience. The priest could as well have used SuperGlue, but I don't think it'd have the same flavour.

Here we see again the ritual, which converts the prosaic into the sacred.

Nandu.

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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-09 19:30, Dionysus wrote:

I wouldn't catagorize science as myth ...

...He [Campbell] also states, and this is important, that "myth is metaphor."

Science is not metaphor.
I believe i understand where Dionysus is coming from, but i believe Steve also has a point.

Certainly the applications of science aren't considered metaphors - build a better washing machine or a more powerful nuclear warhead, and you have a concrete effect in a material world

... but contemporary science qua science is itself nothing but metaphor, an attempt to describe the forces and principles that underlie the physical world in symbolic terms. Much of biology, chemistry, and all of quantum physics describe realities beyond the reach of (i.e., transcending) human senses.

E = mc(squared) is not a literal reality we can point to (matter, of course, can never reach a speed equal to that of the speed of light squared, as nothing can physically travel faster than the speed of light), but a symbol - or metaphor - portraying the relationship of matter to energy.

And when we move beyond the mathematical symbols to language, again we find metaphors for that which transcends our senses.

What, exactly, is a black hole?

Something beyond which we can conceive.

Descriptions of what would physically happen to you if you were to slip into a black hole are playful and speculative representations intended to depict the forces at work in terms the human mind can understand - but we can't point to a picture of a black hole, nor can we put the kids in a car and drive to one, nor do we really know what happens inside - which is why it's called a black hole.

Heck, just the terms alone are mythic - red dwarfs, black holes, quasars, quarks, charm, etc. We name particles - muons, pions, mesons, photons - yet we really don't know what particles are (my favorite description is "tendencies to exist," flashing into and out of existence millions of times each second).

Light is a wave - light is a particle - it can't be both but it is both - these are again metaphors for what we don't understand with our senses ... and, indeed, much of science is wrapped up in describing that which is transcendent, as well as helping us find our place in the universe (Campbell's first and second functions of mythology - and science - psychology - speaks to the fourth function as well).

Of course, we don't think of science as "myth," (in the sense of made-up religious stories, as opposed to the sense of effective metaphor), but as simply "what is" - yet that's how most cultures experienced their mythologies when those mythologies were alive and effective - not as stories separate from reality, but as "what is" - the context of life.

Though Campbell certainly acknowledges a distinction between science and myth, he also recognizes there is a an intimate and somewhat porous relationship between science and myth. A mythology not supported by the science of its time can't help but become untethered from the evolving culture. Campbell points out the prevailing mythology of our period is supported by the science of 2000 B.C., not the science of A.D. 2000 - hence the current spiritual disconnect for so many.

Science supplies the metaphors that support the culture and hence shape the mythology and worldview of that culture. Whether the calculated orbits of the observable planets in ancient Sumer which revealed an order in the heavens that was then expressed and realized in the society, or Newton’s “clock mechanism” of the universe that supported the sense of a God conceived as a watchmaker, a First Cause who winds it up and lets it run, or a Zen Buddhist who finds in mutually exclusive observations of a photon as both particle and wave as apt a koan as the gateless gate or the voidless void for that transcendence which is beyond the ability of the human mind to conceive, scientific imagery has long served as a source of metaphors to help humanity comprehend what is incomprehensible.

Though Joseph Campbell points out an effective mythology is supported by the science of its time, this doesn’t mean one must use the scientific method to “prove” a particular metaphysical concept or mythological image. Nor does this mean mythology either shares the precision of scientific calculation and measurement, or that it is “scientifically accurate” (shades of the literalist fallacy?).

Of course, every scientific weltanschauung sooner or later gives way to another as knowledge and experience expand (and our scientific worldview is slated for the same fate), but a “living” mythology does draw on the science of its era to form images that mediate the individual’s understanding of the cosmos s/he must engage.

The average Christian of the last three hundred years didn’t need to know the mathematical details of Newton’s theory to appreciate the image of God as a cosmic clockmaker who wound up the mechanism of the universe at the beginning of time – nor did an ancient Sumerian farmer need to understand the instruments the priests used to chart the course of the planets for him to experience the stars’ influence in his life.

Similarly, one doesn’t need to know the atomic mass of electrons and neutrons and protons to understand that an atom can be characterized as “mostly empty space,” for example.

Whatever "new myth" emerges in the future will borrow images from quantum physics, cognitive science, psychology, chaos theory and the science of complexity to construct metaphysical and mythic metaphors - that is what humans have done, from Plato and Aristotle, to Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, or Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. Indeed, we're seeing that more and more, as the metaphors of quantum science seep into and shape western culture.

I suspect, though, it's out of our hands. If genuine mythic archetypes emerging from the collective unconscious don the apparel of scientific metaphors, they will take on a life of their own - but if merely trendy artifice, they'll naturally fade away.

metaphorically yours,
bodhibliss


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Post by SteveC » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-10 12:14, nandu wrote:
Still on the subject of binding the deity to the idol...

The article I quoted above describes, in detail, the fixing of the idol to the pedestal in a temple. Please note that the ceremony fulfills an extremely practical function: but it has been given the clothing of ritual, and the performance becomes a profound religious experience. The priest could as well have used SuperGlue, but I don't it'd have the same flavour.

Here we see again the ritual, which converts the prosaic into the sacred.

Nandu.
It is not the ritual that makes the object sacred, nor the person who performs the suface. Man cannot make anything sacred. It is either sacred or it is not, by God. Man can lend his labor, but there is little that he can add to God's creation.

The problem is that men see what they make as sacred (science, etc) rather than everything that God has made (meaning each other.)

Who am I to kill God's sacred creations? That is why war and abortion are the same issue, like the sunrise and sunset, but people only see one and not the other. We have abortion because we have war. We have not make the body a sacred temple of life.

The ritual and myth is to help make our temple one with God. It serves a practical and spiritual purpose, and while we are sacred, we still cannot make things sacred except through idoltry.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.


The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
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Post by sladeb » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

SteveC said:
It is not the ritual that makes the object sacred, nor the person who performs the suface. Man cannot make anything sacred. It is either sacred or it is not, by God. Man can lend his labor, but there is little that he can add to God's creation.
Steve: your statement presupposes that only YOUR god can make things sacred. It also represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the human psyche. For those of us who recognise the "god in us", as being the only god who has meaning for us in our lives, the concept of sacred is based in the meaning that we attribute to the world around us and in us.

Your statement would negate, for example, the sacredness attached to the conctruction of the great cathedrals of europe. These structures were built to draw the mind up, but it is still the innate conscious and unconscious response that comes from the observer that makes these things sacred. It is not their existence that makes them sacred, but the response of the observer. If you even have the chance to walk around Myanmar and Thailand and have the eye drawn upward by the stupa and by the statues, if you can do so without a religious presumption that anything which does not support your belief systems is meaningless, then you will experience a similar sense of awe - a sense of the sacred.

If one turns to your bible, one can gain a sense of the sacred, yet this is a human construct - an embodiment of one way of viewing the world. Likewise, in reading the baghavad gita one can gain a sense of the sacred, again an embodiment of another way of viewing the world. Sacred is a psychological response. It is therefore rooted in ritual and belief which may or may not be attached to some element of creation either manmade or natural.

A further point to note is that creation can just as likely be a mental as a physical construct - therefore "science" which you have such a deep issue with - can provide a construct which becomes sacred. Do you not think that to those who use the science of in-vitro fertilization to conceive a child where they could not do so on their own - there is a sense of the sacred for them attached to the science (and don't even try to judge this - if you haven't walked in the moccasins of infertility, don't go there!).

So what we come down to is that you fundamentally believe that unless your god deemed it so, something cannot be sacred. And therefore, given that in your chain of reasoning, science is valueless, then your god cannot attach any sacredness to something which you cannot accept (after all if he did so, then you would have to face a fundamental crisis of belief). Yet orders exist within your own religious tradition to develop scientific thinking. I attended a course last year taught by a Jeuit priest. And shock, horror, it was on ways to tackle deep scientific problems!

However, returning to my original point, the concept of sacred, comes from the observer, not because your god made it so.
The one thing I have learned about the quest journey is that as soon as you draw to the close of one quest - another calls and the journey begins once more.
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

the concept of sacred, comes from the observer
Interesting ramifications to that, in terms of both 'myth' the old, and 'myth' the new.
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Post by nandu » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-10 14:34, SteveC wrote:
It is not the ritual that makes the object sacred, nor the person who performs the suface. Man cannot make anything sacred. It is either sacred or it is not, by God. Man can lend his labor, but there is little that he can add to God's creation.
Is it fair to negate the value of the religious experience of others? Joe Campbell was fond of saying: "Myth is other people's religion." We are discussing myth here on a different level, as Joe Campbell saw it.

Sladeb, you echo my views when you say:
...the concept of sacred, comes from the observer...
This is the whole point of Resurrecting the myth; because the sacred of yesterday may not work for us any more. We have to find out the new mythical paradigm of this digital world.

And Bodhi, your views on science as the new myth are very interesting! I have to digest your post at leisure before coming back to it.

Nandu.


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Post by tat tvam asi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi guys, I'll add my comments here. I was confronted by an ex-biker/ex-atheist/ex-whore monger, turned minister, this last week. I was in his house that is being rebuilt from the massive hurricane damages that it had received. He asked me, and the others there with me, if we had given our lives to 'Christ'. I told him that I was an ordained reverend, which I am technically, and that I was doing just fine. One of the other guys said that he was agnostic, and boy did the s#$%T hit the fan.

He became very focused on scaring this guy into giving his life to 'Christ' that very day. I had to step in and gain some control of the situation. I asked him if was familiar with the dates and evolution of the concept of a devil, and of hell? Whether he knew that Hell started out as a cold place, only to have evolved sometime later into a hot place and so fourth? I asked him if was aware that heaven has evolved over time as well?

He had no theology training, he was just some guy that started up a ministry on his own, and was then sponsored and indoctrinated by the first baptist church near his house. He had nearly died, at age 40, after being an atheist all of his life. He said that God called him to minister from that day forward.

I assured him that God had sent him to me as well, and that I was to give him the information that would bring about the " Final Reformation " that he needs to continue his ministry. I asked him to explain to me how we are to read genesis 1 as literal?

1 day/light

2 day/firmament

3 day/land

4 day/sun,moon,stars

Now, we have 3 literal days occuring, evenings and mornings, but a sun, or any other star in the sky, did not literally exist until the 4th day? The sun/stars being the reason that there is such a thing as day/night. Day=facing sun/star, night=facing deep space, away from star. So how is there an evening and morning, 1 literal day? How in heavens name are we to teach people that the bible is literal history, when it evidently is not?

People where killed for suggesting that the Sun is the center of the solar system, but why? Well because genesis has the earth existing, and days occuring without a sun or any other star existing. So literally, we have the earth here before the sun/stars, and the sun,moon,and stars going around it, later on when they were created. This is evident nonsense, and it is a deception to suggest that we are dealing with literal literature when discussing the judeo-christian mythology!

He agreed that it can't be taken literally, and that a day can mean various things to God, but then wanted to get right back to a literal Adam and Eve for some reason? I pointed out that if the days are not literal days, how in heavens name do we have a literal man and women being created on the literal 6th day? He was at a disadvantage once again.

How do we link a literal lineage backwards from Jesus, through the patriarchs, and back to this non-literal Adam? The simple explanation is that we don't! It is a folly to do so, as I explained, and those that are well informed do not hold the scriptures to be a literal historical sort of " Live CNN coverage of the dawn of creation ".

Mythology, I informed this zealous man, is written in the language of metaphor, thus the subject matter contained therein points to a spiritual understanding between man, and the cosmos that is man. While the bible can be picked apart when read literally, it can not be picked apart metaphorically.

So I introduced him to the concept of the " Christ within you " as a guide to how every christian should live. We are sons and daughters of the Father, and the Father is within us all, as the Father is a symbol for that eternal space/cosmos that you see when you look out at the stars. It goes on and on until it transcends our thought, and knowledge completely. But that Father, is the very ground of our own being, and so the kingdom of the father, is spread upon the earth but men do not see it. I drew him diagrams of sub-atomic breakdown as well, so he could feel the sense of eternity that is present in our search for first causes, and smallest things.

I found myself quoting Campbell just as readily as he had been quoting memory verses. This was an experience that caught the man off guard, and he wasn't confident enough in himself to continue his original 'hell fire brimstone' tactics. I gave him the name of " Thou art that: transforming religious metaphors " and suggested that God is ultimately giving him this information so that he can take the next step in Knowing God, and bring this new knowledge to his ministry. He is considering it right now, and will be getting back to me after he reads the book. I believe that the old ways are dying, and we can resurrect the intended meanings out of our spiritually dead, denotative, myth interpretations and myth understandings. The youth of today are not stupid, they want the truth, and I feel that it is the responsibility of spiritual people to give them that truth, not scare them in submission using deceptive and out dated religious tactics. I'm for the resurrection of the " Christ within you " motif.

tat tvam asi/the cosmos


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Post by Dionysus » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am


It is not the ritual that makes the object sacred, nor the person who performs the suface. Man cannot make anything sacred. It is either sacred or it is not, by God. Man can lend his labor, but there is little that he can add to God's creation.
Interesting. And here I thought that all things were a manifestation of the formless form beyond forms. All things, the stone, the pile of dung, the infant, the fish, the tree, the flower, the star the conflicting, colliding galaxies, the black hole, are all maifestations of the deity.

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Post by sladeb » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Clemsy wrote:
Interesting ramifications to that, in terms of both 'myth' the old, and 'myth' the new
I agree. That is why I posed some of the questions I did over in the new thread I started on Lares, Penates and Ancestors.

I stated over there:
Generally when we have spoken about myths it has been in terms of the meaning for myth today, in our own lives. This is one way to consider the role of myth. But what would we get if we read the myth as a question posed to us by our ancestors? If we use the myths to connect us to our ancestors, and then ponder them in the light of questions which they have left us to answer. What then do we get from the myth? And does the myth become more meaningful in the process? And most importantly, as we answer the questions, does the raising of new questions evolve the myth even further?
Perhaps it is a way of looking at myth afresh.
The one thing I have learned about the quest journey is that as soon as you draw to the close of one quest - another calls and the journey begins once more.
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Joseph Campbell believes sacred rites, rituals, and myths emerge from the play-sphere. He values fully engaging the world of Maya - the Play - while at the same time seeing through the play, embracing mundane and transcendent perspectives at once - the paradox of "joyful participation in the sorrows of life." (Campbell relates this attitude not just to myth and ritual, but to art. The Artist is in harmony with this spirit of play - through play, the artist accesses the creative imagination - congruent to JC's mythic imagination - but that's wandering off on a tangent ...)

Rituals that i indulge in - from the personal (e.g., drawing Tarot cards, meditation, dreamwork, chakra visualizations, etc.), to the collective, all begin in play - but serious play opens the door to an experience of something beyond the physical world.

Almost every summer i join twenty thousand or so other aging hippies, gypsies, Hare Krishnas, Wiccans, mountain men, midwives, Hindu gurus, Christian ministers, Goddess devotees, Native American shamans, even the occasional Australian aborigine - at the annual Rainbow Family Gathering somewhere in the mountains ( a different mountain in a different forest in a different part of the country each year).

No one is "in charge" - yet springs are developed and water pipes laid, people are fed at some nineteen different kitchens and cafes, waste is disposed of, medical facilities are set up, etc. - all with attention to not harming the environment, removing all traces of human presence, re-seeding the earth, etc.(and, of course, everything is free on site).

(The Interior Department and the Forest Service has trouble understanding how this infrastructure appears spontaneously, every year, without direction from above or an established hierarchy in the conventional sense - but happen it does ...)

Rainbow is an empowering experience - a natural anarchy that works - no one is in charge - no central planning - all decisions are made in council on the land, by consensus - which can be a cumbersome experience when council ranks swell into the hundreds and thousands - but it works. The entire camp looks like Woodstock meets Gilligan's Island (the Professor on acid!) ... has the surreal feel of living a dream - or being a character in a living myth - very tribal, primal, shamanistic

I am somewhat vested in the experience - the mystical/spiritual encounters in the bosom of nature at Rainbow sustain me throughout the rest of the year. One can dance with the Krishnas, attend seminars on natural childbirth or A Course in Miracles, join a nature walk to learn about edible plants and healing herbs growing in the area, join a Bible Study at the Bread of Life or Jesus kitchens, participate in regularly scheduled yoga sessions on the Yoga Meadow, or partake in a Shabbat dinner at New Jerusalem.

The point of the gathering is healing - and so there are a multitude of rituals engaged in, from personal private acts to sweat lodges (native american), fire initiation ceremonies (hindu), fasting and vision quests, ingestion of teacher plants, handfastings/weddings, healing rituals, massage circles hundreds strong, the central collective ritual on the Fourth of July, etc.).

I guess what makes this so eclectic (in a postmodern sense?) is that every rite is accorded equal status in the eyes of gatherers. Some might prefer to adhere to one specific discipline, while others participate in a variety of rituals - but what makes a ritual effective is the experience of a ritual, not whether it's officially sanctioned by the Department of Rituals.

To someone raised in one specific, fairly rigid structure (such as the members of nearby small communities, usually church-going folk in remote towns), the gathering appears chaotic and unstructured. At first, local townspeople are generally certain the Hell's Angels are descending on them, though attitudes generallly change over the course of a month or so as more locals venture out to visit the hippies, where they find their stereotypes challenged and the horror stories just ain't so ... and eventually most come to think of us as more or less religious folk just dancing to the beat of a different drummer.

The highlight of the gathering comes July Fourth. The entire camp maintains Silence throughout the morning - no drumming, no playing guitars, no conversation - a time for personal reflection, indulging in personal rituals, meditation, prayer, etc.

At noon Rainbow time (which lags behind "clock time" - we are talking twenty thousand hippies walking a mile or two from camps hidden in the woods all around ...) we gather silently in the Main Meadow to hold hands in a circle twenty thousand strong - quite a site to behold in a remote alpine valley. We pray silently for Peace and Healing for the Earth and Her Peoples (whether two- or four- or no-footed), and for each Other. In the Silence I pour energy into the Earth, and then receive the same back from Her many-fold. In this moment i form intentions for the coming year, open myself to imagine and visualize the twists and turns of the Path ahead.

This Silence continues until the children, in colorful costumes andpainted faces, parade out from Kiddie Village and Teepee Circle (often a walk of a quarter-mile or more) to the Peace Pole at the Center of Meadow, singing all the way. By this point the Circle has grown to where we stand upslope far from the Center - twenty thousand people holding hands just below the tree line, rimming the valley floor.

As the children reach the Peace Pole at the Center of the Circle, an AUM (OM) arises from every tongue - the AUM-ing rises and falls and rises again around the circle, sometimes sustaining itself for as much as ten minutes or more. It's a powerful collective rite, and ends with explosive cheers as the circle spontaneously breaks up and everyone races down slope to converge at the Center, which morphs into a huge old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration with lots of dancing and drumming and laughing and watermelons and other goodies ... Naturally, there's a touchie-feelie vibe throughout the event - in fact, as the Silence and the Circle breaks, i find myself hugging and being hugged by dozens of jubilant friends and strangers.

Is this experience qualitatively different from hundreds of thousands filling St. Peter's Square to celebrate Christmas Mass?

I suspect not.

A few hundred stay on site at Rainbow through August for clean-up, making sure that all signs of human presence have disappeared - rocks from fire rings returned to areas from which they were gathered, all trash trucked out, trails and meadows re-seeded with native grasses, etc.

Quite the mythic experience - a fully functioning city, where money does not work but with every need magically met, manifests on a remote mountaintop, and dancing, drumming, glittery, spangly, ethereal and often tie-dyed people cavort and play under sun and moon and stars - and then All vanishes, disappears, leaves no trace

... a hippie Brigadoon?

That's a glimpse of how i resurrect the mythos in my life.

We embrace what speaks to us - what works for me may not work for you - but the dynamic underlying ritual and myth remains the same regardless of the specific expression.

mitakaye oyasin
("we are all relations"),
bodhibliss

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2007-02-11 19:32 ]</font>
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